The new Yes

I have very few life-rules – rules by which I lead my life. And fewer still to which I actually adhere. But there is one rule that has generally served me well – never go back!

Never revisit old relationships. Never imagine you might rekindle old feelings. Never try to relive past experiences. Never suppose you can recapture past emotions. You cannot ever be your former self. You can only ever be that which has been formed.

There are many lessons to be learned from the past. But the first among these is that the past is a land to which we can never return.

Oh! And never follow ex-leaders! It’s only a few weeks since Gordon Wilson was advising us that we should dig in for a protracted campaign of up to twenty years before contemplating another independence referendum. Now he urges us to immediately reinstate the old Yes campaign. Those who heeded his earlier advice and went into hibernation now face a rude awakening.

The Yes campaign was a truly wondrous thing. A massive, organic, grass-roots political up-swelling that may be without parallel in modern times. A movement built on a simple but enormously powerful message of hope, and the conviction that we could each make a difference. And we did make a difference. The Yes campaign transformed those who were immersed in it. It changed all who were touched by it. It made Scotland a different place. It fundamentally reshaped our political culture. It altered the very nature of Scotland’s independence movement.

We must cherish the legacy of the Yes movement. We must foster the engagement that it engendered. But it is not that time and this is not that Scotland. We are not those people any more. We are the people who came through that remarkable period. We are the people who lived that experience. We are the people who have been formed by it.

We need a completely new Yes movement. A movement in which the experience of our previous efforts informs the way we address the current political realities. A movement that replaces the naivety of the first campaign – when we did stuff because nobody knew we couldn’t – with the cold calculation born of knowing precisely what we are capable of. Not to mention what sordid tactics tour opponents will resort to.

Outwardly, this new Yes movement may be barely distinguishable from what went before. Let there be marches and rallies and street-stalls and flash-mobs and badges and posters and town-hall meetings and a proliferation of online campaigning. But behind all of this let there be a sharp awareness of the practicalities involved in achieving our aims. Let’s preserve the joyousness and good humour that characterised the first Yes campaign. But let that be the façade to an underlying pragmatism, hard professionalism and unrelenting determination.

This time it’s serious! We need an iron resolve. We cannot contemplate failure. We must be prepared, not only to work as we never have before, but to set aside much of our personal politics for the duration. We need to put all our weight behind our First Minister and the Scottish Government. We cannot afford to dissipate our energies fighting diverse campaigns, often at cross-purposes with one another.

To be effective, a political campaign must not only win the support of the people, it must bring the force of their democratic will to bear on established power in a way which gives it effect. I use the analogy of a spear. The spear of the new Yes movement needs the strength of the people of Scotland as the arm which throws it; and the shaft of a well-organised campaign to direct it. But, ultimately, it relies on the weight of the head and the sharpness of the point to bring that force to bear on the armour of the British political establishment.

The SNP is our spearhead. It’s the only one we have. It’s the one that we have fashioned for our purpose. I am firmly persuaded that, if we hope to win our independence at this time, the new Yes movement must unite solidly, explicitly and unapologetically behind the SNP in a way that did not happen before.

I want to make history, not live in it. We have the will. We have the opportunity. We have the tools. Let’s put them to work.

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9 thoughts on “The new Yes

  1. Willie John

    Perhaps part of the revival of the desire for independence was the rallying call of the word *Yes* itself. It was short, punchy, and very positive. If, as you say above, we should not look back then let us look forward with a new call. May I suggest *Now*.

    *Now* is our opportunity.
    *Now* is the time.
    *Now* we do it!

    1. Dan Huil

      I applaud your enthusiasm, Willie John, it’s just that I and I’m sure many many others still have their Yes “stuff” ready and waiting to re-emerge into the daylight.

      1. Mike Evans

        How certain can we be that the “establishment” will allow us to be “Yes” again?

        We may have to own “No”.

        How about “No Thanks to U’rK”

  2. Keith Robinson

    If, instead of a yes for Indy the referendum was yes to leave the UK union and yes to stay in the EU there is a far greater chance of success. That is, a vote to stay in the EU is a defecto endorsment of independence. There is already a 62% majority for staying in the UE. Why not use this as a starting point and build from there.

    I’d love to see BT trying to form a cohesive argument that dissuades the Scots from leaving the EU to stay with what effectively will be a minimum of 20 years of Tory rule from Westminster.

  3. Mark Rowantree

    Agre entirely, the next Yes campaign must get it right. Since if it doesn’t independence will be off the radar for most of the foreseeable future!! We must put aside all petty differences and campaign hard for a free Scotland within the EU. Make no mistake I, expect the fact that we seem to be in the ascendancy will ensure the opposition we face next time to be louder and dirtier than 2014. Like it or lump it there is a substantial body of Unionist opinion in this country who wil stop at nothing, in order to retain ‘their country’!
    To combat this we must be united, positive and determined. We must also be vigilant for traps that the Unionist establishment will set us. Which due to their overwheening arrogance they will assume we will walk into with our eyes wide shut. In particular, we must not make the mistake of assuming most people are as engaged politically,as we are: their not!

  4. Iain Barker

    Some wont like my opinion but I am going to speak my mind anyway.

    It wont get it right if the SNP drags us all down the same road though. It is surely time to make a specific push for a separate Scottish Currency for one. To go down the road of sharing the Brit Pound and the BoE again is just to walk into the same trap as the last Referendum and hell mend anybody that suggests that to us again.

    To quote

    “The SNP is our spearhead. It’s the only one we have. It’s the one that we have fashioned for our purpose. I am firmly persuaded that, if we hope to win our independence at this time, the new Yes movement must unite solidly, explicitly and unapologetically behind the SNP in a way that did not happen before.”

    In order for it to be a lethal spearhead it is going to have to travel some way towards adopting stances that the overwhelming majority of the Yes Movement can get behind. Something that those of us who will be out canvassing for it can really get behind because folk aren’t daft. I for one don’t want to be standing in someone’s doorway trying to sell something that I really don’t believe in like sharing the Brit £ and the BoE. I will tell you now that if the SNP does that to us then that Referendum is already lost.

    1. Wilma Watts

      I really don’t mean to be rude Ian Barker but the currency issue is being re thought. I gather the SG have a committee looking at all the options. I don’t think that chestnut will be used again. If you look on Wingsoverscotland in the comments there has been a lot of discussion- and a lot of humour! – about what the currency would be called.
      And don’t fall for the, ” Scotland would have to use the Euro” nonesense. Sweden has been in ERM11 for years and don’t use the Euro.

  5. Dave Coull

    “Spearhead” was a British fascist magazine which ran for over forty years from 1964 to 2005. This title has also been used by far-right groupings in other countries. You can see how the imagery of being a “Spearhead” would appeal to fascists.

    “The SNP is our spearhead” says Peter Bell.

    Oh dear. Is Peter not aware of the fascist connections of such imagery?

    In amongst a load of fairly empty waffle from Peter we find this: “We need to put all our weight behind our First Minister and the Scottish Government”

    So, the “Yes Campaign” as envisaged by Peter would be one under rigid party control. That shouldn’t happen – and it won’t.

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